The question of identifying, developing and retaining High potential employees or popularly addressed as HI-POs in business world is probably the most sensitive and important where along with HR, CEOs are also temped to devote time. Since it is an issue of taking care of future talent pipeline linked with succession planning tools, it gains relevance in most of the organizations.
In spite of having well designed strategy for picking up HI-POs and putting them in grooming process for future, why at the end, the initiatives taken by organizations do not deliver desired results? There can be few reasons for this casualty. First, organisations make mistake in spotting them. Generally they are confused with high performers. Actually performance is somewhat different from potential. A person performing well in a current position may not perform in the same way at higher level because of lack of certain other required skills. Second, organizations adopt "one- size- fits- all approach" to develop HI-POs. Roles at leadership levels require different skills and level of capabilities along with ownership. Third, organizations look for aspiration, ability and engagement factors to identify HI-POs as researched well and established but one more factor, they miss to check is the acceptability factor of HI-POs in higher roles. It is seen in organisations that when a high potential employee is developed for a particular leadership role and placed, his acceptability among people does not also get higher rather it decreases due to certain personality traits. You can also term it as dark side of personality, which was never looked into or identified by the HR while picking up that person for future leadership role. Arrogance, less empathy, lack of trust and self insecurity may be such traits. Fourth, Organisations do not communicate clearly with identified HI-POs about their expectations from them in future roles, thus leaving such employees free from psychological bonding. Organisations need to provide clarity on their career growth, handhold them during their grooming journey, motivate them and keep track on their efforts of getting prepared for higher role. In this development process, what is to be seen is the presence of breadth of experience and depth of skills and expertise in HI-POs.
The real challenge for CEOs and HR is not only to identify and develop such HI-POs, but also to retain them for long term. Retention may become possible when such persons are brought on a level where it is deemed that both are made for each other. Alignment of business leaders, expectations and HI-POs career pathing is another requirement to avoid any future derailment. Organization culture plays a crucial role in retention. HI-POs have to make total synchronisation with values and beliefs of the organisation.
But it is not that easy as said. This issue cover story is about managing Hi Potential employees and HR veterans and experts are sharing their wisdom as to how not to get such programs failed. Also to about develop and carry HI-POs to sail through in troubled waters.
If you like it let us know. If not, well, let us know that too.
Business Manager -HR Magazine
B-138, Ambedkar Nagar, Alwar - 301001 (Raj.) India
Dear Mr Anil Kaushik,
Far from high-potential, identifying potential of an employee itself is difficult. While performance is gauged from the past, potential cannot be judged from the past. Potential can be identified from willingness to learn, initiative, interest to conduct experiments, willingness to cross boundaries of one's function or job etc. To monitor potential, a series of behaviour has to be monitored.
Many times promotions are based on the past performance and not necessarily potential is taken into account. Identifying potential of an employee itself is difficult and going further, identifying potential of a job candidate is far more difficult.
Thanks, Dinesh Divekar From India, Bangalore
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